Mountains and Buried Ice on Mars

Phlegra Montes
High Resolution of part of the Phlegra Montes Range
Image Credit: ESA / DLR / FU Berlin (G. Neukum)

The European Space Agency (ESA) has released new images from the Mars Express spacecraft of the Phlegra Montes range, where tectonic forces have created mountains and radar studies indicate that large volumes of ice are buried.

The images from the High Resolution Stereo Camera on Mars Express shows the ‘lobate debris aprons’ surround most mountains and plateaus in the range. These are formed when material is transported down the mountain. On Earth, glaciers can be covered with rock and other debris in a similar manner. The notion that glacier ice may be buried in the region is supported by ground piercing radar aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The ice appears to be as little as 20 meters below the surface.

The detailed image above is the small rectangle shown below in an image of the entire Phlegra Montes range.

Phlegra Montes Range
The Phlegra Montes Range
Image Credit: ESA / DLR / FU Berlin (G. Neukum)

Impact craters in the region offer additional clues about recent glacier formation. These mid latitude glaciers formed during the past several hundred million years when the polar axis of Mars was different. Snow in the craters compacted to form the glaciers. Ice fields like these might provide water for future Martian explorers.

These images were collected on 1 June 2011. The Phlegra Montes region is located West North West of Olympus Mons as shown in the image from Google Mars below:

Phlegra Montes Google
The Phlegra Montes Range on Google Mars
Image Credit: Google Mars


One thought on “Mountains and Buried Ice on Mars

  1. Pingback: Meaning and Definition of Chod | School of Tibetan Healing Chö

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